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The Shallows - Movie Review


4 stars

The Shallows just might be the sleeper hit of the summer.  Straightforward, intense, and with just a hint of symbolism, The Shallows gets the balance right for the summer season and delivers an engaging story of survival.  Of course, whether or not YOU like the movie depends upon your personal relationship with the oversaturated market of shark movies.  There are so many these days that the man vs. shark subject could be listed as a genre in and of itself.  The Shallows; however, is a different beast. 

Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra (Unknown, Non-Stop), The Shallows stars Blake Lively as a medical school studemt who is trapped by a great white shark only a few yards from the shore.  It is a beautiful cove that she catches some waves on with some other surfers.  Who can blame her?  She's recovering from personal loss, she’s back at the cove her mother surfed when she disovered her pregnancy, and she’s got the moves to prove that she hang-10 with the best of them. 

Unfortunately, the commercial-like beauty of this location is interrupted by a nasty old shark who decides to snack on her leg.  No more surfing for this chick.  When her fellow surfers depart into the death she manages to avoid, she finds herself with only an injured seagull (also a survivor of the initial attack) as a companion on a sliver of rock about 200 feet from the safety of the shore.  Everybody scream, "WILSON!"  Nah, it's not like that.  

The Shallows soon becomes a test of faith and endurance for Nancy and that seagull.  They tend to their wounds, monitor the waters, nibble on crabs, and try to figure out a way to the safety of the shore.  And, really, that’s all there is to the narrative.  It’s lean (87 minutes) and mean and – complete with go-pro filmed deaths and several lascivious shots of Lively’s curves – a guilty pleasure as it is both intimate in nature and a grand spectacle, pulling off both feats with few errors along the way. 

You can make any comment you want to about Lively in a fluorescent two-piece bikini being the immediate draw to this thriller.  You may very well be correct; however, there is an unexpected intelligence to what happens (and in how the film is constructed) that will make the majority of the chauvinistic naysayers who doubt the film has anything else to offer eat their words.  Yes, it’s more exciting when she’s actually in the water and the threat is near but, hell, the scenes on the rock offer some symbolic moments of spirituality I’m sure few are expecting from a shark attack movie.  Not to mention that Lively is fantastic in the part of our wounded hero and absolutely delivers a solo performance worthy of your time and money.

The certified B-movie, mixing a good set-piece with effective surf sequences, manages to keep its audience on the edge of its seat.  The action is tense and tight and that shark is a constant threat.  We have a little backstory to provide some lift involving the passing of Nancy’s mother, a really nice reveal of the shark early on to wake us from the surfing montage, and, really, just an above average handling of the material throughout.  I absolutely love it when B-movies prove themselves to be of merit and The Shallows flexes that muscle firmly. 

Maybe the studio doesn’t know it, but The Shallows successfully hits its intended targets so much of the time with shocking moments and unexpected thrills that the film’s director, who has spent long hours with genre material (usually starring Liam Neeson), actually carries its own nautical rhythm that will certainly please the masses.  He teases the terror and delivers the danger and, on top of everything else, makes us care.

Jaws might have turned 41 this week, but this brand new tale of a woman against one of its own breathes new life into the formula it set into motion.  Prepare for the C and D- knock-offs to arrive soon enough.  The Shallows, offering a tense near-death encounter that gives us a reason to live, really is the perfect movie to celebrate the summer with. 

The Shallows is B-movie material with a good-sized bite.  Go see it.


[tab title="Film Details"]

The Shallows - Blu-ray Review

MPAA Rating: PG - 13 for bloody images, intense sequences of peril, and brief strong language.
87 mins
: Jaume Collet-Serra
Anthony Jaswinski
Blake Lively, Óscar Jaenada, Brett Cullen
: Drama | Thriller
Not just another day at the beach.
Memorable Movie Quote: "I just wanted to let you know I made it here."
Columbia Pictures
Official Site: http://www.theshallows-movie.com/site/
Release Date:
June 24, 2016
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
September 27, 2016.
Synopsis: In the taut thriller The Shallows, Nancy (Blake Lively) is surfing alone on a secluded beach when she is attacked by a great white shark and stranded just a short distance from shore. Though she is only 200 yards from her survival, getting there proves the ultimate contest of wills. It's Jaws for a new generation.


[tab title="Blu-ray Review"]

The Shallows - Blu-ray Review


Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - September 27, 2016
Screen Formats: 2.40:1
: English, English SDH, Spanish
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD-50); UV digital copy; Digital copy
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

Sony Pictures absolutely rocks the boat with this stunner of a release. Presented in the film's original aspect ratio of 2.39:1. It is breathtaking; tropical greens and bright blues are everywhere. The crisp transfer will have you wishing to soak in the sun on the beach right next to Blake Lively. Every detail of the location is excellent. The 1080p/AVC-encoded presentation makes even the shark attack a glorious representation. Contrast and saturation is solid. Black levels are deep and satisfying. Detail is excellent throughout and, even in the nighttime scene, adds a depth of field to the film. The monstrous DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track goes deep as the ocean around it.



  • None

Special Features:

There are actually quite a number of supplemental items. Unfortunately, there's a commentary that's missing. Up first; however, are the deleted scenes, which show just a bit more of Lively's performance on the rock. There's a brief look at the filming of the movie and some of the problems the crew ran into, a real-life victim of a shark attack shares his experience in another featurette. There's a look at the finding of the island they used for the movie and a look at the designing of the shark. A UV digital copy code is also included. Of particular note is the lenticular cover which, when held in a certain light and manner, makes Lively disappear into a pool of blood in the water around her.

  • Deleted Scenes (5 min)
  • Shooting in the Shallows (6 min)
  • When Sharks Attack (8 min)
  • How to Build a Shark (7 min)
  • Finding the Perfect Beach: Lord Howe Island (6 min)


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The Shallows - Blu-ray Review